NOVEMBER 19, 2007
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised to kill legislation that protects employers from being sued–by the U.S. government, no less–for discrimination simply because they require workers to speak English.
A Tennessee lawmaker sponsored the measure because the taxpayer-funded federal agency that enforces workplace discrimination laws (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC) has used public funds to sue numerous businesses for requiring employees to speak English.
One of those lawsuits, against a well-known Christian charity, made headlines earlier this year. The EEOC sued the Salvation Army for violating the civil rights of two Spanish-speaking employees at a Massachusetts thrift store. The women—one from the Dominican Republic and the other from El Salvador—were actually given a year to learn some English but they refused and the charity fired them.
A growing number of such lawsuits pushed Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander to sponsor legislation that essentially says it’s not against federal law for an employer to require an employee to speak English on the job. His measure denies the EEOC funds to continue using taxpayer dollars to sue businesses that require English at work.
Members of Congress recognized the need to end such frivolous government lawsuits and the measure received overwhelming support, with the U.S. Senate passing it 75-19 in October and the House voting for it 218-186 earlier this month.
This week Pelosi, the notorious California liberal, vowed to block the measure from being implemented because outraged members of the Hispanic Caucus revolted against it. Fortunately, federal courts have broadly upheld an employer’s right to require employees to speak English on the job. This includes a 2003 ruling, unrelated to this year’s lawsuit, that the Salvation Army’s English policy is perfectly legal.
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